Celebrate Imagination

super imaginatorOne of the perks of being a less-than-talkative introvert is that, even after several years of marriage, you can surprise your spouse with trivial facts about yourself. You know, the random kind of information most people would have exchanged during their first year of dating.

The other day my husband and I were discussing an invitation to a Halloween party. I made the comment that Halloween was my favorite holiday, and he replied, “It is? Why?” After my initial thought of How can he not know this?, I scrounged up a few words to explain.

Other kids went to haunted houses or watched scary movies. I stayed home to watch the Peanuts Halloween special on TV and stuff myself with caramel apples and popcorn balls. Other kids dressed up as witches and vampires. I borrowed a wig to complete my Princess Leia costume. In the days before attending Comic Con was cool, I looked forward to Halloween because it was the one day of the year that I could dress up like a space princess without being labeled as a nerd or a freak. For one day, I didn’t have to worry about reality. I could be Princess Leia. I could lead a group of ragtag rebels against the Empire and win.

Growing up, Halloween was about picking a costume and becoming a character, the perfect holiday for a future novelist. It was a day for me to celebrate imagination, and it still is. Halloween is one of the rare occasions when it’s socially acceptable for adults to play pretend—to imagine who they could be and what they could do—and I refuse to give that up.

Where will your imagination take you this Halloween?


The Reading Connection

The pleasure of all reading is doubledI attended the annual ACFW conference in St. Louis last week. It was a great opportunity to learn about the craft of writing and get the latest news of the publishing industry. It was also a lot of fun to hang out with my writing peeps. They get me.

We talked about writing books, of course, but we also talked about reading them. When it comes down to it, we novelists are readers first. We write because we love books, and we believe in the power of story. Reading the same book creates a connection. It provides common ground to discuss thoughts and emotions. The pleasure of reading is one of the few things in life that multiplies when it’s shared.

Are you part of a book club? A member of Goodreads? How do you share the experience with other readers?


Inspiration from Kilauea

Kilauea collage

I had the privilege of vacationing on the island of Hawaii this summer (The Big Island). One of the highlights was visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Watching the sun go down over Kilauea is an unforgettable experience. It should be on everyone’s bucket list.

The best viewpoint is at the Jaggar Museum on the rim of the Kilauea Caldera. (Arrive well before sundown if you want a decent parking spot.) Of course, I had to visit the museum’s gift shop while I was there, and I found postcards featuring quotes from Ilan Shamir. His quotes are simple yet insightful, and while they’re intended as advice for life in general, the writer in me immediately applied them to my writing journey. This week I thought I’d share a little bit of the inspiration I found at that gift shop overlooking Kilauea.

Advice from a Volcano

©2014 Kim Vandel

Wanted: Teen Writers

Wanted: Teen WritersThere’s so much to learn when it comes to being an author, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I started sooner. Writing a book is only part of the process. You also have to market your book once it’s released. I know from experience that helping an author with their book release is a fantastic way to learn what it takes to launch a book successfully.

Multi-published author Lesley Ann McDaniel and launch group veteran Mindy Peltier are starting a YA book launch group, and they’re looking for young adult team members. It’s a chance for teen writers to get a head start on the learning process.

If you’re a teen writer, don’t miss out on this great opportunity. If you know a teen writer, be sure to pass along the news. Visit Lesley’s blog for details about their YA book launch group.

Interview with an Author: Angela Howard

Angela's storyToday I get to do one of my favorite things—introduce you to a debut author. I met Angela Howard at a writers’ conference last year, and believe it or not, it wasn’t writing that sparked our friendship. It was cats. Or more precisely, it was the reason neither of us own a cat. I can’t remember how we got on the subject of cats in the first place, but the conversation went something like this:

Me: There’s only room for one person with attitude at our house, and that’s me.

Angela: Exactly! I knew there was a reason I liked you.

In addition to having a great sense of humor, Angela has an openness that instantly puts you at ease, and it comes through in her writing. She encourages others by sharing her own mistakes and successes. She’s the perfect person for us to be nosy with, so I asked her to share some of her experience as a first-time author.

First of all, tell us a little bit about your book.

How to Love Your Crazy Family is about learning to love your family while shattering the myth of perfection. No one has the perfect husband, perfect wife or perfect kids. No one—don’t let them fool you! What we can have are growing relationships where we love with purpose, growing every day to be more like Jesus. Loving others sounds easy in poems, love songs and sappy movies but this is real life and we need practical help. My husband and I also share some of our story in the bonus chapter: Holding Out Hope for Happily Ever After, Even with Bipolar.

Did you go with traditional or self-publishing?

I chose self-publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing with Amazon. I have to give credit to some wonderful friends—Angela Craig and Kim Martinez. They encouraged me to take a leap of faith and go for it. I’m kind of a traditional person so I never dreamed of self-publishing. Fortunately, I had some amazing help from my husband with the formatting (which can be tricky) and I’m happy I did it.

What’s been the biggest surprise about the publishing process so far?

The feeling of vulnerability really surprised me. I thought I was pretty much past that but I’m not. There’s this nagging feeling that my parents will be the only people who buy the book, but I just had to let that go and take the risk. I believe in the message of the book and know that there are so many hurting families who need hope and healing in their relationships—just like my family did.

In addition to being a wife and mom, you have a very busy speaking schedule. How do you fit in writing time?

A couple of things help me: 1) I made a commitment to blog 3 times a week when I first started my blog. That self-imposed deadline to “practice in public” helped me to faithfully show up no matter how I felt. 2) I don’t have an hour by hour schedule, but I do have a routine. I start my day with prayer, sitting quietly, Bible reading and study. Otherwise, I don’t have much to give to my writing, my family or my friends. After that I write—something, anything 5 to 6 days a week. I’m not a “morning person” or even a “night person.” I’m at my best from 8-5. The key is knowing yourself and showing up consistently, even when you don’t feel creative or productive.

And last but not least, the big question: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

That’s easy! I’d be able to transport myself and anyone I am touching, with the blink of an eye—anywhere. Can you imagine? Lunch on a warm, sandy beach in the Caribbean. A misty sunset walk through the streets of Paris. Come on—amazing!!

Angela Howard author photoAngela Howard is an inspirational speaker, writer and credentialed minister who loves to teach the truth of God’s Word in a fun and relevant way. She writes for her own blog at No Ordinary Days and is a contributor for the Her Voice Blog, and the Becoming His Blog. She also compiled Joanna Weaver’s devotional At the Feet of Jesus. Whatever she is doing, she has a passion to see spiritual growth and an increased sense of purpose in people’s lives. She graduated from Northwest University in 1997. She and her husband have been married for 18 years and live in Washington state with their two children.

You can connect with Angela on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Her new book, How to Love Your Crazy Family, is available from Amazon.How to Love Your Crazy Family cover

©2014 Kim Vandel and Angela Howard

Crowds, Conferences, and Connections: The Introvert’s Style

As an introvert, the mere thought of interacting with people is enough to cause me anxiety. The prospect of interacting with dozens—or hundreds—of people I don’t know is enough to make me want to curl up in the fetal position. And to willingly subject myself to such torture? There has to be a very good reason for me to do such a thing.

My desire to be an author provided the motivation for me to attend my first writers conference. I knew I needed to connect with other writers, meet with agents and editors, and learn things I just couldn’t get from a computer screen. So I went and endured the torture of talking to strangers.

I also discovered something wonderful while I was there. Those people at the conference were my kind of people. They didn’t think it was strange when I spoke of my characters as living, breathing individuals. They understood how every room was viewed through the filter of “possible setting” and how conversations during a meal could spark a much-needed plot twist. Two days of talking about characters and story arcs and the beauty of words was sheer heaven, and it was there at that first conference that my dream became something tangible.

It was enough to make me want to attend another conference, and with each conference I go to, the feeling is reinforced. At each conference I make more friends, friends who get me and how I see the world. You can learn about publishing and the craft of writing online, and you can connect with other writers online, but there’s something about meeting someone face-to-face that you’ll never find on the World Wide Web. Some of the best connections I have, the closest writing friends I have, are those I’ve met at conferences.

Now, instead of dreading it, I look forward to writers conferences and meeting people. And yes, that’s coming from an introvert. Shocking, I know. But the positives have come to far outweigh the negatives. While the social interaction tends to drain me physically and emotionally, being around other writers re-energizes my dream. It fuels my determination to turn my dream into a reality. It’s what makes me sit down day after day and do the work.

It never gets easy, but it does get easier. The secret is to go and keep going. Make new friends and reconnect with old ones. Get involved. Volunteer so you have a reason to talk to people. Ask someone about their book. Even the most introverted introvert can find their voice when you tap into their passion, their dream. And who knows? You could end up adding fuel to your own fire when you do.

For the extrovert’s perspective, be sure to check out my friend Mindy’s post Crowds, Conferences, and Connections: The Extrovert’s Style.

Tweet How an Extrovert and an Introvert attend a writers conference.

The Inside Out Girls Attend a Writers Conference.

Related posts: Becoming a Better Introvert and True Confessions of an Extrovert.

©2014 Kim Vandel

Becoming a Better Introvert

Young beautiful student girl behind booksNot all introverts are created equal. Some are willing to speak up, to share their thoughts and feelings, and go out of their way to make new friends. Some are more reserved. They keep their thoughts and feelings behind closed doors most of the time, and when they do let them out, it’s usually in small amounts. More often than not, friendship is accidental or the result of circumstances, not something that’s pursued.

I fall into that reserved category, and like most things in life, it has its advantages and disadvantages. I don’t feel the need to fill the silence. I’m okay with being alone for hours without speaking. The down side is that I don’t always speak up when I should. I don’t always voice ideas that could benefit myself and others, and with only my internal monologue for advice, it’s easy to talk myself out of trying new things. I know I’ve missed out on some good experiences because of it.

But being an introvert also makes me a better writer. I’m an observer, a thinker. I’m content to sit in the background and watch the world around me. I see things that others miss. Written words feel safer than spoken ones, so I love and value words and lavish attention on them. I’m willing to spend the time searching for the perfect words that will express the thoughts I do choose to share.

I’m thankful for the extroverts who’ve patiently waited for me to open the doors I like to keep closed, who’ve become my accidental friends. I appreciate the way they encourage me to open the doors a little wider, a little more often. They’re willing to gently knock on the door, but they’re not offended when I don’t want to open up.

My goal in life isn’t to become an extrovert. It’s to become the best version of my introverted self that I can be, but I’ve realized I’m going to need help from an extrovert or two to reach my goal. Fortunately, I have an extrovert friend who’s also a writer. Mindy is always willing to try new things and drag me along invite me to go along with her. It was Mindy’s idea for us to blog on the same day, one of us from the extrovert’s perspective and one from the introvert’s, and we plan to do more of these two-sided posts in the future—our Inside Out posts—because the world needs both kinds of people.

The cool thing is that even though we’re two very different people Mindy and I still have a lot in common. We “get” each other because we’re both writers. And I like to think that we make each other better writers because of our differences.

For the extrovert’s perspective, be sure to stop by Mindy’s blog In the Write Moment.

Are you an extrovert or an introvert? How has it helped you? How has it held you back?

Because the world needs both kinds of people.
Because the world needs both kinds of people.

©2014 Kim Vandel

Confession of a Reluctant Blogger

Time for a confession: I never wanted to blog. I wanted to write books, not blog posts, and it wasn’t like I had extra time to kill. How was I supposed to fit one more thing into my schedule? But as an aspiring author, I knew I needed to have some kind of web presence, so I waded into the blogging world. I set a goal of posting once a week for a year, and at the end of the year, I would reevaluate.

Some weeks it was downright painful to get it done, but I reached my goal, and a year and a half later, I find myself unexpectedly thankful that I started blogging. I’ve connected with some fantastic people, forged new friendships, and helped debut authors launch their books. My knowledge of social media and general internet how-to has increased dramatically. I’ve learned a lot about writing and about myself.

I feel confident that someday, when I have to market my own novel, I won’t be lost in the middle of the publishing ocean. I’ll at least know which direction I need to swim in, and I won’t be swimming alone. That’s something to be thankful for.

©2013 Kim Vandel

Celebrating the Moment

OCW Cascade Writing ContestI wanted to share some good news with you. This last spring I entered the Cascade Writing Contest, and I recently learned that I’m one of three finalists in the Unpublished Young Adult category.

The winner won’t be announced until next month, but I don’t want to think about winning or losing at this point. I’m determined to simply celebrate the moment. Being a finalist means that the judges saw potential in my writing. It means that all my hard work—all that writing and rewriting and agonizing over every word—is paying off.

What moment are you celebrating today?